Dumpy the Dump Truck — Perfect Picture Book Friday

In Canada, today, January 27, 2012, is Family Literacy Day. What a great day to share a picture book written by members of a family!

Title: Dumpy the Dump Truck

Author: Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton

Illustrator:  Tony Walton

Publisher: New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.

Genre: Picture book, Fiction

Audience Age: 3-8

Theme: trucks, working together, cooperation, recycling (fix it, don’t trash it), creative problem solving, intergenerational relations

Excerpt: (Note: These are not the first lines of the book, I went further into the text, to find the first mention of Dumpy.)

“COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!” crowed the rooster on the old barn roof. (He does it every morning.)

As the sun rose over the hill, something twinkled in the tall grass beside the barn. Among the berries and thistles, there was a cracked mirror … a flat tire … a twisted fender … and a sooty smokestack.

What could it possibly be?

Synopsis: The old barn at Merryhill Farm is going to be torn down, and Dumpy, the rusty old dump truck that has been stalled in the grass beside the barn is going to be dumped. Charlie and his grandfather, Pop-Up, decide to fix Dumpy up and get him running again. To do that takes cooperation and hard work, but they’re able to save Dumpy, and Dumpy in turn is able to then do his share of the work.

Why I Like This Book: It’s good to see a book that is geared toward boys, and that is a story about trucks and other machines, rather than a fact book about them. Charlie and his grandfather are obviously close, and work together well as a team. This, and the fact that Dumpy is an old truck that is shown not to have passed its useful stage, subtly gives the message that older does not mean useless. Tony Walton’s illustrations are delightful. The reason I chose this book for Family Literacy Day is two-fold. First of all, the book itself is a family effort, since the authors, Julie and Emma, are a mother and daughter team, and the illustrator, Tony, is Emma’s father. (I will suggest an activity relating to this.) Also, other books in the Dumpy series have been written as leveled readers, so they are ideal for children just learning to read on their own.

Activities/Resources: At the Julie Andrews Collection website, there are both coloring pages (drawn by Tony) and a Party Pack with printable party invitations, hats, and stickers (scroll down past Mousical and Simeon’s Gift).   There are even Dumpy pajamas!   (Note that there are also Very Fairy Princess PJs at Books to Bed. Shipping only to the U.S., unfortunately.)

The Louis Braille School made a story box for blind children based on Dumpy the Dump Truck

Bright Hub Education has a Kindergarten Transportation Unit featuring trucks.

The fact that this book was written by a mother-daughter-father team could encourage other families to write and illustrate their own picture books – a perfect activity for Family Literacy Day or any day.

Availability: Readily available in Hardcover.

# 11 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


P.S. Don’t forget the giveaway for two copies of Emma Walton Hamilton’s book Raising Bookworms! Details on this post.

32 thoughts on “Dumpy the Dump Truck — Perfect Picture Book Friday”

  1. Cooperation abounds with this beautiful picture book. The family working together to put the book out and the story itself shows how working together works best. Great pick.

    1. You’re welcome, Clar. Yes, Julie, Emma and Tony are indeed a great team! They’ve also collaborated on a middle grade novel, The Great American Mousical, which will be coming to the stage this fall. Julie is directing, and Tony is doing set and costume design!

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you’ll be using the leveled readers with your son. They’re in our local library — maybe yours has them, too!

  2. My young grandsons loved this book when it came out. It is a great boy book and a fun series. Julie mentioned on the video clip you featured on your blog yesterday, that there was even a musical aspect to Dumpy the Dump in the rooster’s morning Cock-A-Doodle-Do — she likend it to an opening fanfare. In this case it is the rooster. So glad you started the story at the point in the book. A great read.

    1. Thanks for the reminder of Julie’s words about finding music in the rooster’s song — there is music everywhere if we look for it!

  3. This does indeed sound like a family book on many levels. I love the cooperation aspect as well as the fact that it is a book that should appeal to boys – always a little harder to find, it seems, so especially great that they go on to leveled readers! Thanks for sharing, Beth!

  4. i love how many truck books we have today. I have and love this sweet story. There is a real wholesome, collaborative feel about this book.

    1. I love the way the three of them work together so well for the Dumpy series. Too bad Sam Hamilton’s not younger — he’d have loved all the truck books today, too! (At 15, probably not so much. 😉 )

    1. It is indeed a fun story for boys (or girls like me who played with trucks as well as dolls.) Yes, Tony Walton, the illustrator, is Julie’s first husband and Emma’s father.

  5. Sweet! One of my boys is CRAZY for cars and trucks (he’s sleeping with one right now!), so I’ll have to check this book out. I’ve had the pleasure of working with my brother on books and other creative projects, and it’s always so much fun — I can just imagine how much this family team enjoyed the process. And “Family Literacy Day”? Love it!

    1. Your little guy will love Dumpy!

      In fact, you can tell him that Dumpy was written with a little boy like him in mind. When Julie was asked about doing a picture book for boys, she asked Emma for suggestions. Emma’s son, Sam, was very small at the time, and ate, slept, and breathed trucks. So Emma’s answer was easy. Trucks. It was relatively easy to find non-fiction books about trucks for Sam, but story books about trucks were few and far between. So Dumpy came into being as a true family collaboration from the start — three generations, counting Sam!

    1. Thanks, Erik! Yes, it’s great that they recycled Dumpy and fixed him up to use him again, instead of just trashing him.

  6. I have this book and love the series. When it came out I printed off all the party pack, book markers etc and also made tshirt prints for my nephews for xmas one year. Perfect! for the four boys.
    Sorry for being late Beth, hope I’m intime for the competition.

  7. Beth,
    Love the book…reminds me a little of Mike Mulligan…just because something is old, does not mean it has outlived its usefulness…great concept these days when we are trying to be more “green”.

    1. Thanks for the reminder about Mike Mulligan — I remember him from my childhood!

      Definitely Dumpy is a good reminder about reusing things in a “green” way.

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